Reverting to images from World War I, much of the above must sound like “château generalship”, with the old guy well to the rear urging the young enthusiasts forward to do something he does not care to try in person. If all these are such good ideas, why not use them myself? The answer is, and I will say it in Latin to elevate the tone of this piece, non possumus omnia omnes, and in English to make sure everyone gets it — “we can’t all do everything”. There just isn’t time. I look forward to pursuing some of these thoughts, I hope for quite a long way, but I would be very pleased as well if someone else would get there first. There is, after all, a great deal of juice in Tolkien, more than enough to go round. One of the items Tom singled out in his editorial was this:
[R.G.] Collingwood and Tolkien were both Fellows of Pembroke College for nearly a decade till 1934, when Collingwood took up a Chair at C.S. Lewis’s college, Magdalen. Did the three of them ever talk about, agree about, disagree about the subject of folktales, on which Collingwood was working and publicly lecturing in the 1930s? […] Tolkien was furthermore surely aware of W.G. Collingwood, R.G.’s father, who not only helped to found the Viking Society and wrote influential works on Icelandic sagas, early English inscribed stones, and the “historical” King Arthur, but also published several historical novels set in Dark Age England of a kind which (I think) Tolkien would have liked. About a year later, Tom mentioned Collingwood again in an online chat celebrating the release of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, in which I also participated. There, he said, “I suspect [Tolkien’s] Oxford milieu has not been much investigated. Did he ever talk to R. Collingwood? They must have known each other, and Collingwood was taking a deep interest in folktale at that time. Tolkien also, I think, had a high opinion of his father. There may have been other social/intellectual connections, which could be researched” .
I begin to wonder about this too. Over the past week or so, sparked by having just read the editorial again, I started to poke around. There were extremely few references to R.G. Collingwood in the usual places. Nothing in Tolkien’s biography or published letters, for example. I found a reference to Collingwood in the bibliography for Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond’s wonderful Reader’s Guide, but nothing specific about him in the book. The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia makes one reference to W.G. Collingwood, the father — totally incidental, as far as Tolkien is concerned — and none to R.G.
The most specific references to R.G. Collingwood I have found come from J.S. Ryan, who mentions him in two of the essays recently collected in Tolkien’s View: Windows into His World. But the references are anecdotal and short on specifics. “Tolkien had had so many significant conversations with R.G. Collingwood […] in his own earlier years in Pembroke College”, and things of that sort . Ryan is a little more specific in another essay, offering a few more details and even citing the book we’ll be coming to shortly .
But on my own, I had come across a nice, rather juicy reference to Tolkien in one of Collingwood’s books. Even better, it seemed as if no one had yet printed it! The references (two, actually) occur in Collingwood’s Roman Britain and the English Settlements, where he noted that “special debts must be mentioned. My colleague Professor J.R.R. Tolkien has helped me untiringly with problems of Celtic philology. […]”  Of which there is one example of this assistance:
Let us look at the evidence. Sulis,¹ the goddess of the hot springs at Bath, came into her own at a very early date; her temple, with its classical architecture and very unclassical sculpture, was probably built in the Flavian period. But less than thirty miles away across the Severn, Nodens, the hunter-god of the Forest of Dean, who survived in later mythology as Nuada of the Silver Hand, king of the Tuatha dé Danann, and later still as King Lear, […]Clearly , Tolkien was still thinking about Nodens, a subject he had explored four or five years earlier, in 1932. Tolkien does not mention Collingwood’s work in that essay , but it’s probable that he knew it and that they discussed the subject at Pembroke. Collingwood had published previous versions of his research, Roman Britain (1932) and The Archaeology of Roman Britain (1930), either of which might have made references to Tolkien, but I found nothing there. But the two references quoted above are interesting because they give additional weight to the argument that Tolkien was well-versed in Celtic philology (however, at least one contemporary reviewer criticized Tolkien on that score ).
1. She is traditionally called Sul; but Professor Tolkien points out to me that the Celtic nominative can only be Sulis, and our authority for believing that even the Romans made a nominative Sul on the analogy of their own word sol — perhaps meaning the same — is not good. The Celtic sulis may mean ‘the eye’, and this again may mean the sun. 
But in any case, so far as I knew, no one had ever reprinted this quotation. Ah, but I said the reference was “almost new”, didn’t I? I often forget (and should never) that it’s not enough to consult Wayne and Christina’s printed books — one must also never forget to check their online addenda and corrigenda! As it happens, sometime after their Chronology appeared at the end of 2006, they wrote an addendum online:
p. 181, insert before entry for 14 January 1936:Alas, I have to confess my disappointment at having been beaten to the punch. But how can I even pretend surprise? Wayne and Christina are two of the best researchers the discipline of Tolkien studies has ever seen. I must try to keep in mind Tom Shippey’s pleasure “if someone else would get there first”. The important thing is to excavate these references and to bring these little gems into the light of scholarly study. If I’m not the first to mine the same vein, at least it’s being mined. Much ado about nothing? Probably. Well ... back to the dig.
By 14 January 1936 Tolkien assists R.G. Collingwood, the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford and a colleague at Pembroke College, ‘untiringly with problems of Celtic philology’, as Collingwood will write in the preface (dated 14 January 1936) to Books I–IV of Roman Britain and the English Settlements by Collingwood and J.N.L. Myres (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936; 2nd edn. 1937), p. vii. On p. 264, Collingwood mentions in a footnote regarding Sulis, the goddess of the hot springs at Bath, that ‘she is traditionally called Sul; but Professor Tolkien points out to me that the Celtic nominative can only be Sulis, and our authority for believing that even the Romans made a nominative Sul on the analogy of their own word sol – perhaps meaning the same – is not good. The Celtic sulis may mean ‘the eye”, and this again may mean the sun.’ 
 Shippey, Tom. “Guest Editorial: An Encyclopedia of Ignorance.” Mallorn 45 (Spring 2008): 3–5, p. 5.
 Ibid., p. 4.
 “Transcript of chat session with Pr. Tom Shippey during The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun Online Release Party (09.05.09)”, http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/885-Tom_Shippey_chat_session.php
 Ryan, J.S. “Tolkien’s Concept of Philology as Mythology.” Tolkien’s View: Windows into His World. Zurich and Jena: Walking Tree Publishers, 2009. 103–20, p. 120. Interestingly, this reference comes in the last footnote to the essay, but it’s missing from the original essay, published in Seven in 1986. There, there is no mention of Collingwood. Ryan evidently added this reference for the reprint!
 Ibid., “Mid-Century Perceptions of the Ancient Celtic Peoples of ‘England’.” 189–98, pp. 194, 195, 198. I don’t have a copy of the original essay from Seven, 1988, to compare, but I expect the references to Collingwood are there in this case.
 R.G. Collingwood and J.N.L. Myres. Roman Britain and the English Settlements. The Oxford History of England, ed. G.N. Clark. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936 [2nd ed. 1937], p. vii.
 Ibid., p. 264 and note 1.
 Reprinted in Tolkien Studies 4 (2007): 177–83.
 T.F. O’Rahilly, who wrote: “Stokes, followed by Rhys and Thurneysen, would refer Nuadu to the IE. root neud–, ‘acquire possession of ‘, seen in Germ. geniessen and nutzen. The same etymology is adopted by J.R.R. Tolkien in his discussion of the name Nodons […]. A serious objection to this etymology is that this root neud–, so far as is known, is peculiar to the Germanic and Baltic languages ; there is no trace of it in Celtic.” In Early Irish History and Mythology. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1946, pp. 495–6.
 “Addenda and Corrigenda to The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (2006), Vol. 1: Chronology”, http://mysite.verizon.net/wghammond/addenda/chronology.html